Sharks mailbag: Looking for a scoring winger

Sharks look to bounce back vs. Washington

Sharks mailbag: Looking for a scoring winger
January 13, 2014, 11:15 am
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Sharks GM Doug Wilson has a pair of second-round draft picks in 2014 that he could use to acquire a scoring winger before the March 5 deadline. (USATSI)

Programming note: Sharks-Capitals coverage begins Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California

Digging into the mailbag as the Sharks start a three-game road trip on Tuesday in Washington...

Do you believe the Sharks will look to add a scorer before the trade deadline? #SharksTalk (Roman Lozano ‏@romansharks)

I imagine the Sharks are already on the lookout for a scoring winger, but I wouldn’t expect anything to happen until closer to the March 5 trade deadline, or at least a little closer to the start of the Olympic break on Feb. 8. Things will pick up as more teams fall out of the playoff race, and the Sharks’ schedule isn’t particularly difficult from now until their last game on Feb. 7. 

[RELATED: Sharks schedule]

Will it be a big name? I doubt it. The Sharks won’t want to make any blockbuster deals that would require them to break up what seems like a tight-knit group, and one that enjoys playing for one another.

Over the past few seasons, the Sharks have made a trend of trading and acquiring second round picks. They sent one to Tampa Bay for Dominic Moore in 2012; acquired two from Pittsburgh last season when they dealt Douglas Murray; acquired a second (and a fifth) from the Rangers for Ryane Clowe, and then sent their own second round selection in 2013 to the Penguins for Tyler Kennedy.

In addition to their first round pick, the Sharks have a pair in the second rounders in 2014 – theirs and Pittsburgh’s from the Murray deal. Perhaps they will dangle one, or both, in order to get a player they’re targeting.

Any news on Raffi's return? #SharksTalk (Rachel Barnell ‏@RachelBarnell)

Raffi Torres still says he has no date to return, but it’s fair to wonder if he’s just following company policy here. As competitive as Raffi is, I would find it hard to believe he doesn’t have some time frame in his mind as to when he wants to play his first game of the season.

In fact, Adam Burish offered a little bit of a hint when he was discussing his own rehab from back surgery last week. According to Burish, he and Torres have talked about whether it’s good to get a few games in before the Olympic break, or if it’s better to take the added time off and return at the end of February. San Jose’s schedule resumes on Feb. 27 at Philadelphia.

While it would be great for the Sharks to get Torres back in the lineup, it’s important to keep in mind this is a player who is now 32 years old and is coming off of his second major right knee surgery in six years. It will take him some time to get back up to speed, and whether he can regain that speed before his most recent operation should be a concern.

How should the Sharks deal with Niemi not playing like his usual self? Start Stalock more? #SharksTalk (Jacob Mendelson @sjsharksfinatic)

Todd McLellan has indicated that Alex Stalock will get more regular action, as the busy Antti Niemi will be headed to the Olympics to represent Finland. 

That being said, it’s worth pointing out that McLellan has strenuously defended Niemi when it comes to any suggestions that his number one goalie is having an off year. After the 1-0 loss to the Bruins, the second straight game that Niemi played well after he was pulled in two of his previous three starts, McLellan said:

“He hasn’t been that bad. From our perspective, there’s some goals sometimes that we’d like to have back. I think from your perspective, we’d like to fill a little more of the paper up and the ink, and write some stores, so we go digging.

“Nemo’s been fine. As we move forward, he’s our go-to guy. We’re very confident in Alex, and we feel we’ve got a great pair.”